Cardiac Rehabilitation

Building a better life

Cardiac rehabilitation, or cardiac rehab, is an outpatient program for people recently diagnosed with heart disease or recovering from a heart procedure. It provides the knowledge, tools, and support you need to succeed in developing healthy lifestyles. This includes exercise, proper nutrition, smoking cessation, and controlling other risk factors that increase your risk of heart disease. Specially trained medical professionals will design a program to meet your individual needs.

Who is eligible?

Patients referred for cardiac rehab have one of the following:

  • Coronary bypass surgery
  • Heart valve replacement or repair
  • Heart attack
  • Balloon angioplasty or stenting
  • Heart or lung transplant
  • Angina
  • Other heart-related conditions and procedures

This is a service that is covered by most insurers and is offered at a time that is the most convenient for you. Cardiac rehab typically runs 6 to 12 weeks, three days a week for one hour.

What will I do?

While you are at cardiac rehab, a professional staff of nurses and exercise physiologists will complete a detailed interview, brief physical exam, and a comprehensive review of your medical history. A registered dietitian also may be involved.

Based on this information, an individualized exercise and health improvement plan is designed to help you meet your personal health improvement goals. At cardiac rehab, you will be on a continuous EKG monitor and will have your blood pressure checked. In addition, at each visit staff will meet with you to ask about signs and symptoms and to review your progress.

With a goal of increasing cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength, rehab centers offer a variety of equipment, including treadmills, bikes, rowers, elliptical trainers, NuSteps, upper body cycles, and weights. Staff will train you to exercise on the equipment that is appropriate for you and your goals.

What are the benefits?

Through one-on-one sessions and demonstrations, staff teach you what you need to know to manage your heart condition and recover fully. The topics that may be covered include:

  • How the heart works and what went wrong
  • Details about your heart condition or procedure
  • Treatments and tests you have had or might have
  • Smoking cessation support
  • Energy conservation
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Weight management
  • Stress management
  • Medications

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For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

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